October 26, 2005
Is Blogging a Waste of Time?
Today's Star Tribune (10-26-05) reported a story from Ad Age that "U.S. workers in 2005 will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs. About 35 million workers spend an average of 3.5 hours a week reading them." First, it's interesting that the article asserted that the workers WASTE all that time rather than SPEND that time or USE that time. Hmmm. It did cause me to ask why I read blogs and why I blog myself.
Blogs provide a window on the world, just like other media do. But when you read a newspaper or magazine, watch TV or listen to radio, the information is always filtered by those who produce it and those who pay for it. Blogging is citizen-journalism. You don't need anyone else to produce it, and you don't have to find a sponsor who will pay for it. It allows me to say anything I want to, even if no one is listening. Sometimes it just makes me feel good to get things off my chest. Or to write down perspectives, as I would in a handwritten journal. I'd like to remember such insights and perhaps return to them later for further enlightenment.
As a reader, blogs allow me to take the pulse of the world from ground level, and I like that. I've also discovered that reading blogs of people I know makes me feel that I know the person much better. Especially in relationships that primarily revolve around work or a single activity, some of the more personal interests and viewpoints just never come up. Many bloggers (myself included) also tend to be on the introverted side and find it much easier to write about themselves that blather on about themselves in person. (Especially in Lake Woebegoneland, where blathering on about oneself is uncouth.)
Blogs also provide connections with people who have shared interests. My Friday Cat Blogging posts and my posts about travel to the UK and to Door County Wisconsin have elicited the most comments from others. Even if I never actually communicate with people who read my blog, I'm pleased that what I write might give them food for thought or enjoyment of a picture of that sailboat right at sunset (Door County) or those cute cats all in their basket. Or maybe my post about the wonderful choral offerings in the Twin Cities will inspire someone to go hear one of the groups.
There are also blogs that impart information - such as the one L. started for our family quantitative research methods class. It is an expanding treasure trove of resources for the students in the class. (Unfortunately, I think most of them have been too busy to check it out - but maybe they'll find it later.)
So is blogging a waste of time? As with most things in life, it depends.
Posted by hgroteva at October 26, 2005 9:30 AM | Technology
For me, blogging has given me a legitimate excuse to get back into being more creative in my writing -- something I had abandoned several years ago when I decided to embrace academia in a serious way.
The freedom to be more creative with my writing relaxes me and gives me a healthy stress-free focus away from regular responsibilities. Knowing that others are reading my writing motivates me to write even more. And the more I write, the more energized I feel.
So, no. I don't consider blogging to be a waste of my time either.
Examples of me having fun with writing:
Posted by: Johnben at October 27, 2005 5:43 PM
JohnBen, I agree that blogging provides an outlet for creative writing. In fact, when I was writing the piece asking whether blogging was a waste of time, I had the flash that all the composition teachers I ever had would probably be thrilled to know that people are out there in cyberspace writing, writing, writing. BTW - I'm enjoying your blogs.
Posted by: Hal at October 27, 2005 6:07 PM
I'll bet the reason Ad Age thinks blogs are a waste of time is that they generally don't have advertising -- and when they do, it's usually a few sparse Google ads. Ad Age would like us to spend our time reading print magazines, preferably ones with full-page color ads that bring in huge revenues for the magazine and the ad agency and keep those Ad Age subscribers happy. :)
Posted by: Christine at October 30, 2005 5:54 PM